Major announcement at the bottom of this entry. Please read it, thank you.
There’s a weird feeling when the journey has reached its end. In the beginning, you start out small and careful, thinking of the great things that you could do someday. However, as you move forward towards your dream, that bright light of the future begins to dim. Like a flow of a river, the once raging currents slow into a meander. What now could be of use now that we have almost reached the end? Will the journey continue across the vast oceans?
I thought I would have to share this story about my friend who had reached his end about a week or two ago. I don't know what exactly happened with him, but I could still not believe that he is gone. I feel the urge to move on, but I can't seem to do so without him. With all my strength I must tell it to you. Would you mind hearing me out for a couple of minutes?
"Yes," Rairen responds. "I feel bad that we are about to lose Shigetomo this sudden. There is much adventure that he had going for him." He turned his head toward the Buddha and started to chant the nembutsu. Naotaka looked on as Rairen begins his ritual, eventually joining him in prayer. As the two finished their prayers, Naotaka turned towards Rairen to tell his story.
"A few weeks ago..."
*UPDATE SONG* http://picosong.com/rqAj *UPDATE SONG*
“So where are we exactly?” replied Shigetomo, looking left and right to the various building geometries in an intersection. An electronic screen billboard that was left on by the signage advertising agency caught him with its flashing white lights, displaying the mysterious message “WILD WILD WILD” to him. Below this electronic billboard is a dimly lighted entrance of a train station. Shigetomo initially did not agree to come with him at the station, since he was still finishing his work at the Ministry of Transport. After his co-worker insisted him to come, Shigetomo agreed to excuse himself from work and told the new Minister for transport that he will be away for a little bit to become a chaperon for his friend. They got on a limited express train bound for Kanaizawa at the Okami terminal but stopped immediately at a station located west of the city.
“Kanda,” replied a co-worker with a smug on his face. His hands are placed in his suit pocket and had been touching something. Shigetomo thought that the person is a little perplexed, and his hands were visibly trembling inside his pocket. He believed that since this was a new area unfamiliar with them, it is natural for him to be a little frightened on what would happen to them. Shigetomo asked if he is alright, but the coworker smiled and asked if he could sit down beside the station's ticket machine. It took more than five minutes before his coworker came out of the washroom. "There you are," Shigetomo uttered with an increasingly impatient look.
"So (redacted name), what brings us to Kanda today?" Shigetomo inquired. The coworker seemed to have reacted differently with a frightening glance. Shigetomo then noticed something strange about the area. The canopy had been built, but there are no stores open. What should have been a busy shopping area (Kanda is usually teeming with shoppers during the day) is replaced by people who he may not want to talk to. Quite spontaneously, Shigetomo notices that something is not right.
On the other end of Kanda lies a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect. As the priests and monks of the temple prepare for their Shojin Ryouri (Vegetarian Dinner) for the evening, an ominous bang was heard throughout the temple. At first, the monks were mesmerized to see what had happened but 3, 4, 5, and many more bangs later, they realized what had going on. Chaos had descended just before the sun sets in the background.
("I don't know what to say, Rairen," replied Naotaka. "You need to hang on. I know it's difficult but I am all here for you," Rairen answered.)
At Kanda, things were as grim as the overcast skies that were above Okami that day. A major gang battle had gone between two rival factions that I myself do not know the details of. The two were hit in the crossfire. The coworker was hit in the head and was laying unconscious in the tiled alleyway with his head bleeding. Shigetomo was hit in the stomach but was still able to leave the area in horror. He ran towards the temple seeking for help, not knowing that he was mortally wounded. Soon, he became dizzy and eventually lose consciousness in front of the temple. Before he lost his consciousness he uttered "Nao-taka," and that was when the Tendai priests took his mobile phone and called the emergency contact.
"Now, the government had asked me to be a liaison for Shigetomo while they are in charge of his health. However, doctors have told me that he would not be able to survive it since it damaged his liver and one of the bullets had lodged in his spine," Naotaka mentioned to Rairen while tears are flowing. "In a way, I would not be able to see him anymore." Rairen comforts Naotaka and provides him solace while they wait for the news.
The news came at around six o'clock in the afternoon.
Honda Shigetomo is dead.
Naotaka had a difficult time digesting the grim news, but in the end they managed to compose themselves and take the body for its immediate burial at the temple in Okami. It was a disappointing end to his short adventures around Okaiken, and Naotaka is left alone in the middle of the journey. A few days later, Naotaka had lost most of his motivation, asking the public school that he is working at for a leave of absence so that he could attend Shigetomo's burial.
He boards a train bound for Kanda.
Skies continued to be grim during that day. As the train passed over a road, Naotaka noticed that it had been mostly desolate, with only one to two cars traversing the avenue. It feels like something was not right in the district at all, as if the people suddenly disappears.
At a nearby temple in Igawara (Kotai-ji), where Shigetomo's lifeless body is interred, a monk prepares to embalm his body when he noticed that there is something that is unusual. He found a functioning watch that he kept in back pocket. In the watch, the clock is set at 4:29 in the afternoon, which is unusual since it is already close to seven o'clock in the afternoon. The priest corrects the time to the usual time and suddenly, Shigetomo's body seemed to disappear out of nowhere.
At the edge of Kanda on an AirBNB stay, Naotaka was informed about the timepiece according to the priest. He advised the priest to keep it under the temple's ownership as he was not named as the beneficiary of Shigetomo. He had been thinking if he should even pick up his body for burial, but he knows that as his best friend, Shigetomo would not be happy in the end when they reach The Pure Land.
The grim days continued for Naotaka. By Saturday, he had been always seeking his sect for emotional help. He had considered suicide but he remembered from Ichijoudani not to kill himself as he promised Shigetomo that he is going to live in a future without him. He returned to Shigetomo's Okami apartment to gather Shigetomo's personal belongings. At first he did not know it due to the rows of houses that dominate over the area. However, seeing this exercise before he managed to find his apartment. The landlord had given him keys for 3 days so he can package and send Shigetomo's belongings to either him or Rairen. Naotaka complied and began to one by one sort through his belongings.
While unpacking a box that contained Shigetomo's work at the ministry, Naotaka found a small gear on the timepiece. It seemed to have fit into one of the missing gears on the timepiece. On another box that came from their souvenir trip at Onjuku, he found another one that would have completed the timepiece. Naotaka was in awe and decided to call the temple if he can have Shigetomo's timepiece. The temple agreed, and Naotaka bolted out of the apartment building and towards the temple.
Naotaka's feelings began to improve. He called Rairen in order for them to meet at the Tendai-sect temple. Kanda, however, was still in a state of trauma after the battle, and many streets were lacking people.
The temple was on sight.
However, in a wicked twist of fate, they found the temple surrounded by yellow tape. "Why is it surrounded by police?" Naotaka asked the policeman who was guarding the property. "The police is currently investigating the head monk of the temple as the instigator of a gambling ring that may have caused two gang factions to fight," muttered the police. Naotaka seemed to have lost hope into recovering the timepiece. In tears, he kept the gears onto his chest and prayed for the safe passage of Shigetomo.
Rairen never heard of Naotaka again after the incident. He had regret not helping Naotaka recover from his depression, and he may have believed that he had died. In truth, no one knows what happened to him until I met him at Ninohe. I had recently checked the school that he works on and he's not there anymore. They said that he had moved to Chino, a rural village near his hometown of Ichijoudani to work at the prefectural office.
At Chino, locals said that Shigetomo had left the town after three years work at the town office. According to officials, Naotaka said that he moved to Ninohe to work as a tourism promoter of the area, but they were not sure if he is still employed there.
It was a chance that I would finally see him at Ninohe.
I finally met him at a ramen-ya. He seemed to have fully adopted a normal, happy life with his new wife and his young boy that he called "Tomo" when we sat down together. When we settled down I told him that I work at the Nikkan Shinbun. He seems surprised that I had determined where he lives as he did not really tell anyone, even his friend, about his whereabouts. I told him "I was here as part of an investigation about corruption at the City of Okami," and asked, "do you know this timepiece?" I showed him the device and he was stunned to see it. He frantically searched for the two gears and then found them in a small, locked wooden case. "May I borrow that?" he said. He ran towards the jewelry shop across the street with his family and asked the man to quickly repair the watch. After he fixed it he told his wife and child about the timepiece and then gave it to me. He seemed to have finally be settled in peace.
After the interview to him was finished, he told me to keep the timepiece and discover the meaning of life through it. I was intrigued to try it so I am going to do it tonight.
"The train rolled by as I began to wind the timepiece on its correct time. And then he disappeared," Naotaka states. "Thank you, Shigetomo, for bringing me to a life that I am happy with. It may not be the pure land, but it's a start of a new life that I am happy with. I will fight on without you!" Naotaka shed tears as he remembers his adventures with Shigetomo. It is time to move on and cheer.
Shigetomo had woken up back in an army camp near the Ichijoudani River. It was just before the Seige of the Castle begins but could not determine if they had won or not. He looked at the reflection of himself into the river and saw that he had been wounded and had bandages around his stomach. "My lord, you are still not healed yet," replied one of his assistants. "We found you in front of the castle by yourself trying to make negotiations with Naotaka but then you were shot. I thought that you were about to die so we sent our forces to retake the castle."
"Naotaka, where's Naotaka?" Shigetomo asked in panic.
"Hotta Muneshige had captured him. He awaits your orders." Immediately after that, even in pain, he ran towards Muneshige's camp at Mount Hiei.
There he found a group of farmer's houses. It was becoming increasingly foggy as the elevation becomes higher but Shigetomo, even in utmost pain, climbed towards the house. As he reached it, he asked for both Hotta, who was about to finish his breakfast, and Naotaka, who is still tied up. "Naotaka."
Naotaka did not respond as if his spirit was taken away from him. "Muneshige, taking his sword, suddenly took his sword and...
Shigetomo watched in horror of what had happened. He can be heard screaming Muneshige on top of his lungs. He then slumped to the floor.
A sailor from an Insular navy had just landed in the Mitoyagi Islands setting his sights into new opportunities in Okaiken regarding diplomacy. He had hoped that a new deal with his nation would materialize with the new bakufu government at Okami. Dignitaries from the bakufu had already boarded the vessel for exchange of information about shipbuilding. Initially, the captain refused but eventually accepted.
"We want you to sign a deal collaborating with other sovereign nations of the world," said the captain. "We agree," responded by the dignitaries on the ship.
As the sailor walked through Kanda, he saw two heads that were displayed on the gate of the temple. He did not know the two but they seemed to have a high status of power because of their hairstyle or the helmets. A black helmet adorned with deer antlers can be seen to the left of one head; the other, a red helmet with tall yellow horns can be seen to the right of the other head. The citizens were seemingly interested with the beheaded officials. Most of them kept mum, some were in tears.
At one of the temples, they were seemingly busy with burning the bodies in order for them to turn it to ashes. A lot of people were also near the area, curious about what is going on inside the temple. The sailor asked to himself "If the new bakufu government is installed, that means that those two were part of the previous bakufu?"
The sailor continued to travel around the district to see the disappointed faces of the majority as the new shogun of Mitoyagi takes over. Streets were becoming emptier as soldiers begin to secure the city against supporters of the previous shogunate.
Evening fell, and the sailor closed his eyes in one of the local ryokans that are dominant in ancient Okami.
At Ichijoudani, the head priest begin to chant the nembutsu. It's the start of the Futarigyo Festival where the priests mourn the dead of the past and celebrate the future. The river continues to flow through the town and its contents spilled over to the vast oceans.
Here lies a spot where the pain ends and an optimistic future begins. Even though the two's journey had been cut short, It gave us the time to reflect on what is possible and what is not. It was the graves of Ii "Bizen no Kami" Naotaka and Honda "Izumo no Kami" Shigetomo.
"Thank you for hearing out our stories," said Rairen.
Thank you for reading the update! I hope that you enjoy the journey that we had today regarding our main characters. I know it's a little bit depressing to see their fates sealed in a small timepiece that had distorted time it was also great seeing their adventure unfold over the past two years. It had been my passion to see the characters and the storytelling and the city building grow into complete fruition. It had been my mouthpiece when I am interested in a topic or become interested in things that I want to have a say on. It was fun to interact with friends and viewers of the journal to see what could be done and what was done better. I would like to give you my gratitude for being there with me.
And now, time for the sad news.
I have decided to shut down Okaiken.
While it may seem fun at first, recent events in my real life mean that my time in this journal has passed and it is time for me to move on into other endeavours. It feels like for me, I had been travelling alone for too long and I had lost a lot of friends like what you saw in the journal update later. It feels like if I keep straddling the same road I won't be able to recover anything. I must take a different road now.
When I last did a farewell message in 2011 I was optimistic with what would happen next. I got what I had wanted back then, I managed to put Okaiken in USNW while participating in Queensferry's Wars; A Thousand Words was published after 20-some chapters and it got solved; finally, The Times of Troix remained open as a functioning community newspaper that it even won a Trixie! My heartfelt thanks to all of you guys! Okaiken took me to the craziest of places, introduced me to my Japanese friends and the Japanese language and my passion with landscape architecture and city planning as well as even Asian history. Without it, I could have wondered where I may ended up...
Anyway, time for the final replies of the journal! @JP Schriefer Thank you for being a regular visitor of the journal. I hope you enjoyed the last 5 years of it. Happy New Year to You! @raynev1 Thank you so much for visiting the journal and supporting it along the way. That film with the boxer was although non-understandable was about fulfilling dreams. Once again, thank you so much and I hope to see you around! @MeMyself&I Thank you for the compliments! And yes, I can answer that question for you. The composer is Toshiyuki Watanabe. He had composed great, original soundtracks and classical music pieces in Japan. Didn't know if he's that big elsewhere but he's capable of conducting really beautiful music for anime, TV shows and movies. There's Joe Hisaishi (if you want Ghibli soundtracks), Yoko Kanno (composer that did this beautiful update music), Takayuki Hattori, Akira Senju, Kenji Kawai, Tomita Isao, Shinichiro Ikebe, etc. Lots LOL @Ln X You have been such a wonderful regular of this journal, and I would like to thank you for your support! See you around at some time @slickbg56 Welcome back, before you went MIA you were a great contributor and a regular of this journal! Happy new year and enjoy your new endeavours. @_Michael thanks for being a great regular to the journal! (PS please PM me if you have question about you know... ) @kschmidt Thank you very much! Happy new year to you as well.
@Ln X I hope you enjoyed that last update! @raynev1 thanks for tuning in! @jmsepe Thanks for being a great rival to the journal, you have been a good critic (Waiting for your CJ to come soon HAHAHAHA). @kschmidt Thanks! @123deoliveira4 Thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed the main update as well! @kingofsimcity Thanks for being a regular visitor! I hope to see you around sometime soon.
@CorinaMarie Thank you very much for the input and the visit! I hope to see you at the staff room @CT14 thank you! I hope you enjoyed this journal during its run and I hope to see you again around the site. @JP Schrieferthanks! @kschmidt thanks! @raynev1 yeah, working with a wide range of Japanese music sometimes lead to an interesting update LOL, but I won't go truly Initial D on that one @korver thanks for visiting! Sorry to close this CJ at this time, but you are so awesome at stuff. Hope you can recreate Japanese scenes for us next time lol @_Michael thanks! @Takingyouthere Thanks for being a regular visitor. Hope to see you again on site and keep up the good work! @jmsepe so it comes down to you. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Final word of thanks to the team: @jmsepe, @__A, @NielsC007, @jayguum, @TowerDude, Aran, and SimEmirate
Thanks to the former USNW members for their input, my Japanese friends and teachers for culture notes, my professors for those critiques. They are essential to the very blood of this journal.
I leave you now with this clip from NTV (Nippon Television/NNN). Good Night, and I'll see you along the way...